Your intentions are defined as your aim, goal or plan in completing an objective. Sometimes, you might do something with good intentions, but have a bad result or be perceived negatively. Other times, you may not understand why you did something at all. However, through asking yourself “why”, analyzing the outcomes of your actions, and working to align your intent with your behavior, you can fully understand your intentions.
Part 1 of 3:Discovering the “Why”
1Identify your interests. Often times, your interests will align with the choices that you make. Your passion tends to lead you even more than you may be conscious of and may drive you to make certain decisions. For instance, if you love dancing, you might prioritize a dance event over something else you need to do, like work or studying.
Just because you have interests, however, this is not a reason to skip out on your responsibilities. If you have made promises to others or have responsibilities, then you should attend to those first and seek fun later.
Also, perhaps for you, work is priority over all. This could explain why you choose to work late some nights and find it difficult to make it in time for dinner or other family events.
Remember that being successful in life is about finding balance.
2Determine obligations. In assessing why you do the things you do, consider your responsibilities. This is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward way to determine your intentions. If you were not obligated, however, know that your decision was driven by other factors.
For instance, if you fired an employee, you may have been mandated to do so by someone higher up than you.
Also, if you chose to find a second job, you might have done so because your money is tight and you needed another source of income.
3Assess outside influences. Your intentions might be to help, please or impress another person. Reflect on whether or not your actions have been influenced by someone. Perhaps this person has asked you for a favor and you feel obligated to complete it. The person might also be a significant other or family member to whom you feel a great deal of responsibility.
Try to spend more time around people who are positive and who have similar values to you.
Consider whether or not you would have done something had another person not been involved.
Remember that outside influences are not inherently bad. You might, for instance, keep your Tuesday evenings clear because that is the day you take your grandmother out shopping. Your intention could be to please and help your grandmother.
4Evaluate how well you understand a situation. Sometimes, we make certain decisions and choices without having all of the facts. And sometimes we research extensively before acting. Having an awareness of your level of consciousness of a situation will help illuminate why you acted as you did. In assessing your intentions, be sure to be aware of what facts you may or may not have had in that situation.
For instance, perhaps you leave a party with a friend who told you that they would not be drinking, but then they were pulled over and got a DUI. Though you intended to have a safe trip home, you were not aware that you friend had any drinks.
Also, perhaps before you chose your classes you researched your teachers extensively and assessed your level of interest or need for the topic. In this case, your intentions would clearly have been to choose the best class and coursework for yourself.
Be sure to gather all information possible, particularly when making major decisions.
5Journal out your thoughts. Take a moment to really think about why you do the things that you do, what motivates you, and what your purpose is and was. Ask yourself “why” you have done something, and be as honest as possible. Write down your responses to yourself.
Part 2 of 3:Analyzing Your Impact
1Talk to others. In addition to doing some self-assessment, you should also have conversations with others. Perhaps you have affected people in ways you may be unaware of, both positive and negative. If there is a specific situation that you are seeking clarity on, ask your friends, family, and coworkers what they think, especially if they were involved. They will be able to give you a perspective you may not have considered.
You might say something like “do you remember when I didn't go on family vacation that year? I've been thinking about that lately. We never talked about it much. What did you think about it?”
The insights of others might be hard to deal with, but try not to take it personally. Take it as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.
2Be aware of other's responses to you. Sometimes, you might be so focused on yourself and your own life that you forget to pay attention to others and the effect you have on them. Tune in more to other's responses to you. Notice their facial expressions and body language when you speak. Notice whether they smile or not when they see you. Practice being more present in the moments that you interact with others.
If someone smiles and looks happy to see you or talk to you, then you likely have positive impacts on people and have good intentions that align with it.
However, if you see your friends or coworkers tense up when they see you or if they don't speak, then perhaps you should do a bit more soul searching.
3Complete a personality assessment. There are many different personality assessments available to help assess your inner motivations. One such that is particularly popular at the moment is the “love languages” assessment. This quiz helps determine how you express and receive love.
For example, some receive love through “words of affirmation.” If you received this result, it will mean that you tend to be more verbally expressive. It can help you understand why you choose to say or not say certain things or help you understand why you have a need for certain things.
Another personality assessment that might be useful is the Myers-Briggs. This assessment indicates psychological preferences and assesses how people make decisions.
4Assess the feedback you're getting. Another way to further understand your intentions and analyze the impact you have is the assess the feedback that you elicit from others. For instance, if your boss or coworkers are constantly telling you that they don't feel that you are a team player, this should create some cause for pause for you. It might mean that you are not truly invested in the work or perhaps your office culture is not a natural fit for you.
Think about the feedback that you get from family and friends, as well. They know you better than anyone.
5Accept responsibility for your actions. The responses you get from others will perhaps align with thoughts that you already had about yourself or stand in contrast with them. You may find that those close to you have issues with you that you did not know about. If so, you should listen to them and apologize for any wrongdoing at your hands. Having a greater knowledge of the impact you have and acknowledging it is the first step in aligning the person you want to be with the person you are currently.
Accept responsibility for the positive effects you have had on others, as well, and continue to make such an impact.
Part 3 of 3:Aligning Your Actions with Your Intent
1Keep your promises. After you have successfully considered your behaviors and garnered a greater understanding of the consequences, both positive and negative, of your actions, it is time to work to align those actions with your intentions. One of the first ways to ensure that you are doing that is to keep your promises. Your word should mean something and others should be able to trust that you will do what you say you'll do. Honor your promises, responsibilities, and commitments.
For instance, if you tell a friend that you will pick them up at 7:00PM, do all that is within your power to be there at that time.
If you find, however, that you will not be able to keep your promise then you should tell the other person as soon as possible and work to rectify the situation.
Try to keep things in perspective and in balance.
2Monitor your behavior. Remember that, though you would perhaps prefer to be judged by your intentions rather than your actions and their consequences, that you are always being observed by others. Though first impressions are important, remember that people's opinion of you is constantly in flux and is dependant upon everything you do and say. Be sure to always act in ways that are positive, kind and productive.
Show kindness to everyone you meet and avoid gossiping or speaking negatively of others.
Maintain high ethical standards and attend to your responsibilities.
3Follow your passion. If you are doing what you love, then your intentions and actions will often align well. Strive to live a life that is joyful and fulfilling for you and it will be all the easier to understand your inner desires.
Remember to still attend to your obligations, however. For instance, though you may love to paint, you should not necessarily quit your day job to do so. Find a way to balance your obligations with your interests.
4Be who you want to become. Every day of your life, you should make decisions and actions that will direct you into becoming a better person. Don't set yourself back by making poor choices or falling into bad habits. Instead, work to improve yourself and good decisions will naturally come from you.
Consider reading self help books or becoming more spiritual.
Capture your accomplishments and progress in your journal.
5Surround yourself with positive people. They say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Be very mindful of the company you keep and only keep positive and uplifting people close to you. Negative people can be a poison and can lead you to do things that are out of your character. Choose your friends carefully!